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Senegal’s Opposition Candidate Faye Takes Early Lead in Presidential Polls

The incumbent was not on the ballot for the first time in Senegal's history. His ruling coalition picked Ba, 62, as its candidate.

Early results from Senegal’s presidential vote put opposition candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye ahead, sending his supporters to celebrate in the streets, though his main rival from the ruling coalition said a run-off will be needed to determine the winner.

At least five of the 19 candidates in the race issued statements as results trickled after the election on Sunday, congratulating Faye.

Former prime minister Amadou Ba, the ruling coalition’s candidate, said however that celebrations were premature.

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“For our part, and considering the feedback of the results from our team of experts, we are certain that, in the worst case scenario, we will go to a run-off,” Ba’s campaign said in a statement.

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Millions took part in a peaceful day on voting to elect Senegal’s fifth president following three years of unprecedented political turbulence that sparked violent anti-government protests and buoyed support for the opposition.

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At stake is the potential end of an administration led by outgoing President Macky Sall that has promoted investor-friendly policies but failed to ease economic hardship in one of coup-prone West Africa’s more stable democracies.

Voters had a choice of 19 contenders to replace Sall, who is stepping down after a second term marred by unrest over the prosecution of firebrand opposition leader Ousmane Sonko and concerns that the president wanted to extend his mandate past the constitutional limit.

The incumbent was not on the ballot for the first time in Senegal’s history. His ruling coalition picked Ba, 62, as its candidate.

About 7.3 million people were registered to vote in the country of around 18 million. Turnout was at around 71%, according to state television RTS.

Election day ran smoothly with no major incidents reported.

The first set of tallies announced on television showed Faye had won the majority of votes, triggering widespread street celebrations in the capital Dakar.


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